Immune protection against COVID-19 is only short-lived - healing practice

Strong vaccine protection after COVID-19 vaccination only for a short time

So far, it is unclear exactly how long COVID-19 vaccines protect against infections with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. A team of renowned scientists has now clearly confirmed that the strong protection after vaccination and after infection is only relatively short-lived.

Researchers from the Yale School of Public Health and the University of North Carolina have quantified the likelihood of contracting COVID-19 again after being infected naturally or being vaccinated with vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson or AstraZeneca. The results were recently presented in the renowned journal "PNAS".

mRNA vaccines offer the longest immune protection

According to the results, the risk of infectious breakthroughs depends on the specific vaccine. The mRNA vaccines from BionTech/Pfizer and Moderna provide longer-lasting immune protection than that acquired by natural infection or the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines.

"mRNA vaccines generate the highest antibody response and, according to our analysis, provide longer lasting protection than other vaccines or exposures," confirms the study's lead author, Professor Jeffrey Townsend.

Immune protection varies from person to person

“However, it is important to remember that natural immunity and vaccination are not mutually exclusive,” adds the professor. According to him, many people have partial immunity from several sources that can influence the durability of immune protection.

How long does immune protection last?

According to the study results, protection against a breakthrough infection lasts an average of 29.6 months after full vaccination with mRNA vaccines if no variant that overcomes immune protection prevails.

Protection against natural infections lasts an average of 21.5 months and protection against Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vector vaccines lasts an average of 22.4 months.

Adjustment of required vaccines

According to the research team, reliable protection against reinfection requires reinforcement with vaccines adapted to the evolutions of the virus.

Arms race with corona virus

“We tend to forget that we are in an arms race with this virus and that it will develop ways to evade both our natural immune response and any vaccine-induced immune response,” adds Alex Dornburg, who co-directed the study with Townsend.

“As we saw with the Omicron variant, vaccines against early viral strains are less effective in combating new viral strains,” explains the scientist.

The team's findings suggest that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus bears a striking resemblance to endemic coronaviruses that cause the common cold in terms of the risk of reinfection.

"SARS-CoV-2 mirrors other endemic coronaviruses that are also evolving and reinfecting us despite natural immunity to previous strains," Townsend points out.
According to him, the continuous updating of vaccinations and boosters is therefore of crucial importance in the fight against SARS-CoV-2. (vb)

Author and source information

Show now

This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.


Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


Yale School of Public Health: Short-lived COVID-19 vaccine protection, booster shots are important, says new study (Published: 7/15/2022), ysph.yale.eduJeffrey P Townsend, Hayley B Hassler , Pratha Sah, Alison P Galvani, Alex Dornburg, et al. : The durability of natural infection and vaccine-induced immunity against future SARS-CoV-2 infection; in: PNAS (2022),

Important Note:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.